LIFE IS WHAT HAPPENS …

So you wrote yourself a birth plan, huh? Then you took it to your OB, and your OB sort of pooh-poohed it, and now you think you need to find a more supportive doc?

I’m gonna tell you something:

Your OB has been to more deliveries than you have, babe. She knows that the best-made plans you’ve got are most likely … well … not going to go 100% like you suppose.

Nothing really ever does, right? So why should this be different?

Here’s the thing: Babies aren’t so great at following directions — and there is no telling that baby of yours how to exit its current building. There is no telling that body of yours how to handle the exodus, either. Sure, women deliver babies every day, it’s a function of human evolution, delivering babies is a “natural” process, and sure, you absolutely ought to be able to control the temperature of the room and the level of the lights and the volume of the music, and the numbers of people strolling in and out staring up into what you used to think of us your private business before you popped a baby out of it — or had it pulled out of the muscles just north — but here’s the thing … it might not go the way you planned.

I’m not saying you ought to get all panicky. If you really hate your doc, move on. You don’t want to hate the person in the room with you when you’re giving birth — you’re already going to hate someone in that room, I promise, and he’s gonna be the father of that kid. (You’ll like him again a couple of minutes after baby, so don’t draw up that divorce decree just yet.)

All I’m saying is — DO NOT GET TIED TO THE VISION OF YOUR PERFECT DELIVERY, because if it doesn’t happen, YOU WILL FEEL ROBBED. AND YOU DON’T WANT TO FEEL ROBBED. Promise. I have lots of girlfriends who were convinced their deliveries would go one way, and they went a-hell-another. These women were really sad, because it had never occurred to them that the idea of the NATURAL BIRTH means that BIRTHING IS AN EXPERIENCE OUT OF NATURE — and come on, folks, we all know we ought to have a HEALTHY RESPECT FOR NATURE.

DO NOT BE THAT DUMBASS WHO CAMPED OUT WITH ALASKAN BEARS AND THEN WAS ALL SURPRISED WHEN HE GOT ATE.

I say all this despite having had three great, drug-free, vaginal deliveries.

That said:

The first time around, there was meconium in the amniotic fluid, I had to have a mag drip in my arm and an oxygen mask on my face, and ended up with a no-time-for-pain-blockers episiotomy. And the mag drip blew and my arm looked like Violet Beauregarde after she started looking like that giant blueberry.

The second time, the charge nurse refused to believe that Gaga was coming any second DESPITE my explaining to her over and over again that big sis Diddy had arrived in under 2 hours from the first contractions to taking her first breaths. I literally said to nurse, “No, really, the baby’s coming now,” and she threw a blanket over my legs and I popped the kid right then, just like I said I would, on to the table. The baby, by the way, was born IN HER SAC and had my amazing doula not grabbed the blanket out off her face, she might have drowned on the table in her own fluids. Did you notice how there is no doctor in this scenario? That’s because my doctor missed the whole fucking thing.

The third time, my NEW doctor was totally committed to me delivering Pancake and Sausage vaginally, despite Sausage being breach. This doc is a super-hero, and I applaud her moxie — she was way more confident of this plan than was I. When you deliver twins at most hospitals, even if you’re trying to avoid a C-section, they like you to deliver in the OR just in case things go south. Fine. So we’re getting ready to go into the OR and the fucking anesthesiologist tells me I can’t have Mr. Big(Ideas) AND my doula in the OR — too many people. Which puts me in the fine position of having to choose between my husband (whom, to be fair, since I am in the throes of labor, I situationally HATE) and the woman I absolutely NEED to have by my side for this experience, as she had been for the arrivals of Diddy and Gaga. Choice would not have been THAT hard, but again, my OB is awesome and she totally over-ruled the anesthesiologist. That just made the anesthesiologist HATE me — she actually lectured me in the OR because my labor was too far along to plant a port for the epidural I might need in an emergency. So I called her an asshole — really? It’s MY fault I can’t tell my labor to go more slowly? BITCH. Then I delivered two babies within ten minutes and the second one was PULLED OUT FEET FIRST. Which, by the way, I do not recommend — there’s a reason evolution prefers the other way — you really want the BIG part to exit first, ladies, not last.

I say all this to make one overarching point:

I STILL DUG MY LABORS. Despite all the crazy stuff that happened, and that I couldn’t have planned for — because I wasn’t tied to a plan.

Do yourself a favor. Visualize what you want. Hope for what you want. Stay flexible and present and deal with what comes — you’ll feel better about it later, promise.

In the meantime, do the one thing you CAN control, and pack yourself a fun little delivery bag full of stuff for you and your newborn. Here’s what I’d bring if I had to do it over again:

ChecklistMommy’s DELIVERY BAG LIST:

  • An IPAD — so you can watch Netflix if it takes forever to get your labor started, and so you can watch Netflix when/if you’re nursing those first few days, because nursing in the beginning is like a forty-minute process each session and you really ought to catch up on movies while you still can. And if you don’t feel like exposing your newborn to screen-time — not that it bothered me, I watched the entire first season of Downton Abbey one night in the peds ward with Sausage, when he was three weeks old and admitted for two days for RSV — you can use the Kindle app and read a book.
  • Nursing bras / tank tops (these are great) and super-comfy pajama bottoms or yoga pants — because honestly, the sooner you get out of that hospital gown, the better you’ll feel.
  • A bathrobe.
  • Slippers — hospital floors are FREEZING.
  • Snacks — in case it takes forever to get your labor going — and for the middle of the night munchies after baby arrives. Chocolate is good. Also fruit-leathers and nuts.
  • Your phone and a camera.
  • A pillow. Hospital pillows suck.
  • Your basic toiletries. Make-up, if you care. (I don’t.)
  • A pair of footie pajamas for the baby to wear home upon discharge.

AND THAT’S ALL.

You don’t need diapers, you don’t need blankets, you don’t need extra clothes for the kid while you’re still at the hospital — for the most part, the hospital will be more than generous in supplying your baby with what she needs.

And TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THAT GENEROSITY. (You’re paying for it, anyway — just wait till you see all the charges your insurance tries to wiggle out of — did I mention mine didn’t want to pay for BOTH babies when I delivered the twins?) So, take the extra diapers home. Seriously — stockpile and steal. Take extra blankets, extra snot sucking bulbs, extra baby hats. Extra nursing shields. Extra pump parts and breastmilk storage containers. Those maxi pads and mesh undies they give you for your sensitive lady parts? ASK FOR MORE. You’ll want them later, promise.

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9 thoughts on “LIFE IS WHAT HAPPENS …

  1. LOVE this…and your blog, which I learned about in Brooklyn through a local parents’ network. Thank you for sharing….I just had a baby a few months ago and it ended up being a C-section and not according to my Ina May Gaskin vision of making this a joyous experience where I sing along to Bruce Springsteen as I work through the ‘rushes.’ No real plan but I still felt a bit robbed and sad for a while. Next time I’ll remember it’s not about HOW the baby arrived, but that the baby made is safely so I could sing Bruce to him for years to come. Thanks again! Sofia

    • Thanks so much! The Ukranian focus on your blog is awesome — Gaga’s godmother is Ukranian, too (and an Emmy-award winning set decorator) — I think she’d love your blog … will send it her way.

  2. Nothing is set in stone, that’s for sure, especially when it comes to labour and birth! Arriving at the hospital with a 3 (or more) page description of what you want to happen, is 99% gonna end up with you being disappointed…However, I do think it’s a good idea to prepare and gather information and (like you said) visualize what you want. Being informed is the first step towards being empowered…and even though the process of birth may not happen *exactly* how you want, if you were present and an active participant in decision-making, you will feel positive about your experience (even if it ends up totally different than what you thought!). So I think birth statements (I don’t like the word “plan” either!) are a good thing, if only to make sure the basic things that are super important to you are communicated to your careprovider team.

    • Kat — totally agree — good to know what you want, and what you’re shooting for, and be on the same page with your provider. That said, I’ve rarely met a new Mom-to-be that was as flexible as that! (I know I sure wasn’t the first time around — I had a TOTAL “this is what I am PLANNING on” approach — which, had it not been for the late-onset pre-eclampsia knocking the wind out of THAT, probably would have twisted my head around in knots!

  3. I’m touched by the serendipitous nature of this post. The date it was published was the date I was sent to the hospital for an ’37 week’ emergency induction. Everything went to hell, and after 50 hours of failed inductions and drugs, I was admitted to the OR for a c-section. I had prepped the past 6 months to get my body in shape for a natural, vaginal childbirth. Over the past few weeks I’ve struggled to cope with feelings of frustration, regret, “wishes I would have”, and felt robbed of the last month of an otherwise perfect pregnancy.

    You’re words about not wanting to feel robbed hit the emotional chord I was needed to move past my feelings. Acceptance has never felt so good. Thank you.

    • Noel — first off, you are one kick-ass Mama. I can’t imagine what 50 hours of ANYTHING feels like. So glad my post rang true to you. And you wanna know what’s even better than ACCEPTING? Leveraging! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told myself, “Oh come on, you had your vagina cut open DRUG-FREE — you can do ANYTHING if you can do THAT!” Seriously. It’s amazing how much I’ve managed to talk myself into doing thanks to that particularly harrowing moment of my life — surviving the bad-ass crazy stuff makes you automatically BAD-ASS yourself. So go you, Ms. 50 HOURS OF FAILED INDUCTION SURVIVAL QUEEN!

      • Thank you, Ms. ‘You had your vagina cut open drug-free!’

        I’m grateful for your empowering response. Owning my birth experience and keeping it close in times of struggle will help me endure. But furthermore, in the humdrum day-to-day, I also find solace in knowing my decisions in the moment were altruistic and any future sacrifices will be easier to make.

        I look forward to following your blog.

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